Star rating: 3
Who is he?
Dave Sobolewski is, more or less, your prototypical old-school, pass-first point guard. He's neither long nor particularly quick and agile, but he is fundamentally sound, and for most of his career has been an accurate marksman from beyond the arc. He is also a captain for a second year in a row.
Sobolewski's career has been an odd one though. A 2011 Illinois Mr. Basketball finalist in his senior year of high school, the Benet Academy product arrived at Northwestern with a winning pedigree a credible reputation. He was immediately thrust into the starting lineup by former coach Bill Carmody, who saw ‘Sobo' as a perfect fit for his Princeton offense, and it was there that Sobolewski stayed throughout his first two seasons in Evanston.
In fact, Sobolewski started the first 74 games of his Northwestern career, and was a more than solid player. But in his junior year, he regressed. Whether it was the coaching change and the new system it brought, or an added sense of responsibility, or something else altogether, Sobolewski never found his rhythm and endured a nightmare of a season. Now a senior, he'll be looking to reverse the downward trend.
What are his expectations heading into this year?
After last year's struggles, expectations for Sobolewski in 2014/15 have been significantly suppressed. During the second half of last season, after returning from a concussion that cost him four games, Sobolewski barely even played. Over a six game stretch at the heart of the conference schedule, he totaled nine minutes, including two "DNP-Coach's Decision"s. In that time, he failed to even tally a shot attempt or assist.
Heading into this season, nobody even knows if the playing time will return, let alone the production. Northwestern's backcourt is crowded, and if Collins opts to go with youth and athleticism over experience, it might not. But as Collins has said on multiple occasions, he believes that "there's a role for Dave on this team," and we have to take him at his word.
So what can Sobolewski offer? A few things. First of all, he brings experience and leadership. Those two qualities won't alone bring playing time, but they shouldn't be completely overlooked. However, more importantly, he could still have a bounce-back season as a long-range shooter and as a sure-handed distributor. He did win a team-wide offseason shooting contest, and posted good three-point percentages and turnover rates in his freshman and sophomore seasons. So while expectations are meager, a return to his self of two years ago shouldn't be ruled out for the senior captain.